IFR’s Board of Directors recently recruited a few new members. We are happy to welcome Michael Brown to the IFR family as one of the newest Board members!
Born and raised in the Mission District, Michael has known the Mission before it became a “million-dollar neighborhood.” As the grandson of the late youth advocates Barbara Brown, and son of the well-known community champion Tracy Brown, Michael brings a legacy of deep engagement with the youth and Latinx communities in San Francisco.
Using one’s own experience as motivational fuel for one’s life can be powerful and inspirational – and that’s exactly what Michael has done. At a young age, he watched his grandmother advocate for youth in the schools for over 30 years, and his mom’s tireless advocacy for services, funding, and programs for at-risk Latino youth. He saw the impact that his father had on kids at John O’Connell High School. “My dad was a security guard; everyone knew him and looked up to him. With my mom, I saw her put in the work and people listened. I’m a product of that environment.” In fact, throughout his young life thus far, Michael has been surrounded by advocates for the community, justice reforms, and immigrant rights.
As a young man, Michael got into trouble with the law and was incarcerated three times, including once when he was racially profiled. “My friends and I weren’t a gang, but we were automatically considered one. I wanted to fight back correctly, but because I was so young, I didn’t know how.”
Michael turned things around when he got his Bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State. While there, he made a choice to focus his fight on the justice system and racial reform. He has worked as a paraprofessional at Phillip & Sala Burton High School to support newcomer students to get into college. Later, as an In-custody Case Manager at Five Keys – a key partner of Roadmap to Peace - he gained firsthand knowledge of the tremendous impact his work could have on participants.
From that point on, Michael was hooked. He loved providing court advocacy. “That cemented it for me. I loved helping young people because I was once in their place. I understand them. I could stand there as a prime example to show them that it’s never too late.”
Today, Michael works in the Public Defender’s Office in the Pre-Trial Release Unit. Meeting with clients within the first 48 hours of their arrest, Michael helps identify clients’ initial defense. Most of his clients are monolingual Spanish speakers. He is proud of his unit’s record: about 80% of those seen in his unit get released at arraignment, and of those released, 70% don’t get charged.
Michael is co-chair of the Violence Prevention and Reentry Committee for the Latino Task Force and sat on the San Francisco Reentry Council for two years. Bringing his perspectives on the justice system, his family background of community advocacy, and Michael’s rich experience, he joins IFR’s Board in April 2023.
When not working, Michael’s love of baseball comes out. He can often be found playing or coaching baseball. He also takes great pleasure in spending time with his children. “I have 3 kids. I will enjoy going prom dress shopping with my 17-year-old (who also just got into college), and coaching the baseball teams for my 8- and 5-year old’s. That’s my outlet and self-care.”
IFR’s Board of Directors worked diligently to bring on new members that reflect the rich diversity and talent in our community. In bringing Michael Brown on to the Board, a well-known baseball pun truly applies: they hit it out of the park!